The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) is planning to pounce on clubs that have reneged on the payment of their players’ contributions.
It is a criminal offence for employers not to pay the contributions of their employees.
Times Sports investigations suggest that some of the 48 Division One League (DOL) and second division clubs have never enrolled their players onto the SSNIT scheme, a situation that appears to have gingered the authorities to swing into action pretty soon.
Newly-promoted Premier League sides – Bibiani Gold Stars, RTU and Accra Lions as well as existing Karela FC were yet to enroll their players onto the scheme, whilst Dreams FC, Great Olympics, King Faisal and Berekum Chelsea are in the process of updating their contributions report.
The DOL and second division clubs yet to register their players onto the scheme are Berekum Arsenal, Achiken FC, Bofoakwa Tano, All Blacks United, Agbozume Weavers, Brong Ahafo United, Asokwa Deportivo, Akosombo Krystal Palace, Crocodiles Stars, BYF Academy and Amidaus Professionals.
Others are Kintampo FC, FC Samartex, Danbort FC, Nea Salamina, Nkoranza Warriors SC, Sekondi Hasaacas, Heart of Lions, Nsoatreman FC, Kotoku Royals, New Edubiase United, Nania FC, Steadfast FC, Nzema Kotoko FC, Okyeman Planners FC, Tamale City, Pacific Heroes FC, Sporting Mirren FC, Techiman City FC, Proud United FC, Tema Youth FC, Unity FC and Skyy FC.
The rest are Tudu Mights Jets FC, Wa Suntaa Sporting Club, Star Madrid FC, Uncle ‘T’ FC, Yendi Gbewaa FC, Unistar Academy FC, Young Apostles FC, Venomous Vipers and Young Wise FC.
Lack of funds
Most of the club owners that spoke to the Times Sports on conditions of anonymity blamed their failure to enroll their players onto the scheme, to lack of adequate funds.
“It’s been very tight for some of us financially and that explains our inability to pay players’ SSNIT contributions. But we shall do that immediately the situation improves,” said one DOL club owner.
It is the usual retort one got from the scores of club owners and team managers interviewed.
However, the National Coordinator of the SSNIT Footballers Registrations, Joseph Nkoo, said the club owners’ reaction cannot be tenable, describing it as a hackneyed mantra.
“For me, this no money syndrome is now becoming a cliché for some of the clubs.
“This is not enough excuse for their failure to pay players’ SSNIT contributions. Once the player takes a salary, it is incumbent on the club to pay.”
Employers are expected to deduct 5.5 per cent of the employee’s salary every month and add 13 per cent of worker’s basic salary to make 18.5 per cent. Out of this, the employer is to remit 13.5 per cent to the Trust within 14 days of the ensuing month.
According to Nkoo, failure of clubs to enroll the players was bad and urged owners of clubs to do the needful in order to secure the future of their players.
“We have booked an appointment with the Ghana Football Association (GFA) president Kurt Okraku’s club – Dreams FC and Obed Nana Kwame Nketiah’s Berekum Chelsea FC, to get especially all their new players on board,” he said.
Mr Nkoo said it was an offence for employers (club owners) not to pay the SSNIT contributions of their employees (players), urging the clubs “not to wait for us to chase them before responding.”
He said provisions of Act 766 of 2008, mandates employers to register and contribute to the Basic Scheme (SSNIT), failure of which can lead to prosecution.
Director-General of SSNIT, Dr John Ofori Tenkorang, was not happy with the rate at which the sporting industry in Ghana was left behind when it came to club owners contributing to SSNIT on behalf of their players “who can be best described as their workers.”
In a response to a question, he stressed that clubs were given adequate education as regards the reason SSNIT was established and the benefits of SSNIT before the registration process rolled.
“It’s no secret that all players – especially those in the Premier League, receive salaries as part of their contract obligations and the clubs are therefore mandated to pay their SSNIT contributions.”
The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has the powers to prosecute defaulters, having applied for prosecutorial powers from the Attorney-General in April 2018. It obtained an Executive Instrument (EI 26) to prosecute defaulting employers on the Tier 2 schemes in July 2018.
The SSNIT Footballers Registrations National Coordinator also urged players to ‘badger’ on their employers to pay their contributions “for their own good.”
He said regular contributions to the scheme for at least three years can enable the player benefit immensely from an invalidity pension.
“What this means is that, a player who is rendered incapacitated because of an injury he sustained in a game, will be paid an amount of money for the rest of their lives – as though they had gone on pension at 60 years. It doesn’t really matter their ages at the time of injury.”
What also came to light during the Times Sports investigations was the fact that some club owners were under-declaring the incomes of their staff including footballers to enable them pay something less of the latter’s basic salary.
“Under declaring of employees’ income is a crime, and that it is prudent for employers to state correct salaries of their employees to SSNIT,” a source said.
Mr Nkoo reiterated that failure in the payment of workers’ contributions contravenes the Pension Act 766 of 2008. Defaulting in payment, a penalty of three per month shall be imposed on unpaid contribution.
“Additional penalty of three per cent per month on the contributions plus penalty may be imposed if after written demand notice, the employer fails to pay up.”
For his part, Chairman of the Club Licensing Committee of the Ghana Football Association (GFA), Dr Kwame Baah Nuako, said in an interview that clubs that failed to pay players’ SSNIT contributions could be punished based on the information available to his outfit.
“Any action we take on clubs that defaulted in the payment of their tax obligations including players’ SSNIT contributions, should be warranted by the information we get from any affected player, staff or SSNIT,” he stressed.
Dr Baah-Nuako said the rules were clear and that clubs could not make any false declaration or lose their licence to participate in the league.
“False declarations by clubs are punishable in line with the Club Licensing Book of Sanctions 2021.”
BY JOHN VIGAH